HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats beat the league’s best defence, and second-best offence in Friday night CFL action, but they also overcame another problem that could have longer range implications.
The Cats lost starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli in the first quarter due to an apparent knee injury but still put up an impactful 23-15 victory over the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-1).
Hamilton (5-1) lined up without running back Sean Thomas-Erlington for the second consecutive week, and linebacker Simoni Lawrence served the first of his two-game suspension.
Masoli’s injury near the end of the first quarter did affect the Cats’ performance, said coach Orlando Steinauer, but in a turn-around, positive way.
“You just don’t know how they are going to respond, so that’s when the veteran leadership steps up,” said Steinauer.
Offensive lineman Mike Filer agreed.
“Jeremiah (Masoli) told me ‘go out and get this thing,’” said Filer, who completed 100 career games Friday night. “That was the first thing he said to me on the sideline. That win was for Jeremiah.”
The Cats’ inspired victory came after a solid performance by the defensive unit. Hamilton had six takeaways in the game, including three interceptions on quarterback Matt Nichols, who had thrown only one in his previous five appearances.
Defensive back Jumal Rolle had a career day with two interceptions.
“If you’re going to win big games like that, you have to make big-time plays,” said Steinauer. “I’m just proud of the guys. The preparation, the staff, it paid off, they deserve this.”
A solid defensive performance by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats gave the team a win at home over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 23-15.
— Caio Miari (@caiomiari) July 27, 2019
Winnipeg’s 15 total points were the team’s lowest of the season.
On the other hand, even though it wasn’t an eye-popping display by Hamilton offensively, the team did enough to grab another win.
Filling in for Masoli, Dane Evans completed 13 of 25 passes, for 94 yards and an interception, as well as a rushing touchdown.
But an X-factor for Hamilton on offence was the running game, which totalled 82 yards and two touchdowns over a defensive unit that entered Week 7 allowing 59.2 rushing yards per game.
Hamilton’s 23 points tied the BC Lions’ season-opener performance as the most points allowed by the Blue Bombers in a game in 2019.
“I think Tommy (Condell) deserves a lot of credit for the play call. He called a great game once Jeremiah went out,” said Steinauer, of his offensive coordinator.
“The team believes in (backup) Dane (Evans). It’s tough to get reps in practice, but he’s always prepared, he’s professional.”
Masoli’s status is uncertain for the next game as the player will get some further imaging Saturday morning.
— CFL (@CFL) July 27, 2019
With the next game only five days away, Evans will likely be the Ti-Cats’ starter in Week 8.
“Short weeks are always a little different, but I prepare the same every week … We just need to get there, watch the film with Tommy, and get things cooked up for the next week,” said the 25-year-old quarterback after the game.
The Cats will now travel to Saskatchewan to face the Roughriders (2-3), while the Blue Bombers will continue on the road against the Toronto Argonauts (0-6), both games happening Thursday.